Daniel 4:20-22

20. The tree that thou sawest, which grew, and was strong, whose height reached unto the heaven, and the sight thereof to all the earth:

20. Arborquam vidisti, quae magna erat et robusta, et cujus magnitudo pertingebat ad coels, et aspectus ejus ad totam terram.

21. Whose leaves were fair, and the fruit thereof much, and in it was meat for all; under which the beasts of the field dwelt, and upon whose branches the fowls of the heaven had their habitation:

21. Et folium ejus pulchrum erat, 1 et fructus ejus copiosus: et in qua, 2 cibus cunctis: sub qua habitabant bestiae agri, et in cujus ramis quiescebant aves coeli.

22. It is thou, O king, that art grown and become strong: for thy greatness is grown, and reacheth unto heaven, and thy dominion to the end of the earth.

22. Tu es ipsc rex, qui multiplicatus es et roboratus, 3 ita ut magnitudo tua multiplicata fuerit, et pertigerit ad coelos, et potestas tua ad fines terrae.


Here we see what I have touched upon, namely, how Daniel acted respectfully to the king, and thus was mindful of his prophetic duty, while he punctually discharged the commands of God. We must notice this distinction, for nothing is more difficult for ministers of the Word than to maintain this middle course. Some are always fulminating through a pretense of zeal, and forget themselves to be but men: they shew no sign of benevolence, but indulge in mere bitterness. Hence they have no authority, and all their admonitions are hateful. Next, they explain God's Word with pride and boasting, when they frighten sinners without either humanity, or pain, or sympathy. Others, again, who are wicked and perfidious flatterers, gloss over the grossest iniquities; they object to both Prophets and Apostles, esteeming the fervor of their zeal to have driven away all human affections! Thus they delude miserable men, and destroy them by their flattery. But our Prophet, as all the rest, here shews how God's servants ought to take a middle course. Thus Jeremiah, when prophesying adversity, feels sorrow and bitterness of spirit, and yet does not turn aside from unsparing reproof of the severest threats, as both sprang from God. (Jeremiah 9:1.) The rest of the prophets also act in the same manner. Here Daniel, on the one hand, pities the king, and on the other, through knowing himself to be the herald of God's anger, he is not frightened by any danger while setting before the king the punishment which he had despised. Hence we gather why he was not astonished. He felt no fear of the tyrant, although many do not dare to discharge their duty when an odious message is entrusted to them, which stimulates the impious and the unbelievers to madness. Daniel, however, was not astonished with any fear of this kind; he only wished God to act mercifully towards his king. For he says here, Thou art king thyself. He does not speak with any doubt or hesitation, neither does he use obscurity nor a number of excuses, but plainly announces king Nebuchadnezzar to be intended by the tree which he saw. Hence the tree which thou sawest is large and strong, under the shade of which the beasts of the field were dwelling, and in the boughs of which the birds of the air were making their nests: thou, says he, art the king. Why so? Thou hast become great and strong; thy magnitude has extended to the heavens, and thy power to the ends of the earth. Now, what follows?

1 That is, whose leaves were beautiful. -- Calvin.

2 Verbally, "in it." -- Calvin.

3 That is, who hast become great and strong. -- Calvin.


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